Amish Devgan and Supreme Court
Amish Devgan and Supreme Court
Litigation News

No coercive action against Journalist Amish Devgan till first week of July in FIRs for comments against Sufi Saint: Supreme Court

It was submitted before the Court today that the journalist had already tendered a public apology and that the comment was made as Devgan confused Alauddin Khilji with Moinuddin Chishti due to the rhyming nature of names

Debayan Roy

In a relief to journalist Amish Devgan, the Supreme Court today directed that no coercive action should be taken against him until the first week of July in relation to the FIRs lodged for hurting religious sentiments by referring to Sufi saint Moinuddin Chisti in derogatory terms.

The Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari was hearing a plea by Devgan urging the Court to quash the First Information Reports (FIR) registered against him on the issue.

The Court today also stayed the investigation against Devgan in its interim order.

Appearing for Devgan, Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra submitted that the journalist had already tendered a public apology on the issue as he confused Alauddin Khilji with Moinuddin Chishti due to the rhyming nature of the names. It was submitted further that Devgan himself is a follower of the Sufi saint.

"My client has issued a public apology", Luthra said, adding, "It's an unfortunate event and happened in the heat of the moment."

Luthra also requested that all the FIRs being filed are consolidated. He informed that notices are being issued under Section 41A, of the CrPC.

Justice Khanwilkar responded by directing that all complainants be impleaded in the plea before the Court so that all are heard. Luthra agreed to do the same.

He went on to submit that a charge under Section 153B of the Indian Penal Code (dealing with imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) is being cited, which is not applicable in the case against Devgan. He also urged the Court to take note that as per the complaint, the debate came to the knowledge of the complainants via social media.

In this backdrop, he went on to dispute the allegations made that there was a "well-thought-out conspiracy."

Countering Luthra's arguments, Advocate Rizwan Merchant said,

"If you see the broadcast, the word lootera chishti was uttered thrice. When it's uttered more than once then that intention argument doesn't auger well."

"It needs to be seen if the case documents are enough to proceed with the investigation. We will direct the matter to be posted in first week of July. Till then implead all parties", Justice Khanwilkar observed.

In the meanwhile, Luthra urged the Court to pass orders for the interim protection of Devgan, stating,

"My family is being threatened. My wife is being threatened. Please protect me in the interim else warrants will be out. This cannot happen to a journalist!... I am being called to Kota, Ajmer. We need protection against coercive action."

Luthra added that FIRs were filed in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Telangana. Further, it was also submitted that an FIR was filed against threats made to Devgan's life in Uttar Pradesh.

After hearing today's arguments, the Court directed as follows:

  • The petitioner is to implead all the complainants in the case. The impleadment to be done in 3 days. Notice is to be issued to duly added respondents.

  • The investigation would be stayed in interim and no coercive action should be taken against the petitioner till the first week of July.

  • Notice issued returnable on July 8.

  • Liberty is granted to add correct FIR numbers.

On his June 15 news show, Devgan had used the term ‘Lootera Chisti’ (‘Chisti the robber’), inviting furious reactions from the Muslim community throughout the country.

The news anchor made the comment during a debate on a PIL about the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act on his show ‘Aar Par’. He had allegedly called Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, better known as Khwaja Ghreeb Nawaz, an “attacker” and a “looter”.

The petition filed through Advocates Mrinal Bharti and Vivek Jain prays for an interim stay on the investigation against Devgan, and for the FIRs filed against him to be quashed, as it is a "small issue".

The petition primarily states that the FIRs against Devgan would stifle freedom of speech and expression of journalists, as the reference to Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti as a “lootera” was an “inadvertent error” committed during a heated debate segment.

Devgan also argues that there is no mens rea or intention made out in the case.

According to the Pydhonie (Mumbai) Police, in reaction to Devgan's statements, a complaint was received from the Raza Academy. The police then recorded a statement from Raza Academy General Secretary Arif Razvi, and registered the FIR.

Devgan also argues that there is no mens rea or intention made out in the case.

Further, after his show, Devgan had tweeted and issued an apology stating that he had mistakenly referred to ‘Khilji’ as ‘Chishti’, and said that he also has visited the Dargah for the saint’s blessings.

Later, another FIR was registered against the journalist by the Nanded police under Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting reli­gious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code.

Devgan, in his plea also sought the consolidation of FIRs and transfer of the case to any court in the National Capital Region (NCR).

[READ ORDER]

Amish Devgan Final Order.pdf
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